Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Meme hosted by Bermuda Onion.
This week's words are brought to you by



harris tweed breeches/breeks/plus 4's
Image found here.
At that moment, a wizard in plus-fours appeared out of thin air next to Mr. Roberts’s front door.   (77)  


Plus fours are breeches or trousers that extend 4 inches (10 cm) below the knee (and thus four inches longer than traditional knickerbockers, hence the name). As they allow more freedom of movement than knickerbockers, they have been traditionally associated with sporting attire from the 1860s and onward, and are also particularly associated with golf.
Definition found here.

I was clueless and now I am not.  Of course, if Rowling had said golf pants, I probably would have thought of something more contemporary.  Something like these.  Now I don't know that I'll ever use this in a sentence, unless I'm describing a character in a novel or movie or something.  Otherwise, this is one of those new-to-me words that will likely be forgotten due to disuse.

The Most Annoying Things On Facebook photo 5
Image found here.
Remember, she interviewed all the Gringotts’ Charm Breakers once, and called me ‘a long-haired pillock’?  (152)

pillock (noun, slang)
a stupid or annoying person; simpleton; fool
Definition found here.

This slang word has a long history and comes from the Norwegian pilicock.  So what does that word mean?    Well, it's akin to "dickhead" so finding an appropriate image was . . . ummm . . . not easy.  I mean, I could have gone literal and . . . let's face it, some things are simply not pretty and it's still fairly early when I type this.  I just don't want to sift through those images this early in my morning.  So I'm focusing on "stupid" or "annoying" and I can't help but think that Calvin think she's stupid while Susie finds him annoying.  

I noticed that the language and jokes of the characters in the Harry Potter novels definitely become more colorful as they get older.  Quite appropriate if you ask me.

toss that kale
Image found here,
complete with recipe!
Bung him some Owl Treats.  (155)

bung (verb)
to fling; toss
Definition found here.

At this point, I've pretty much determined that I have to be more careful with my reading material.  I mean, I realized that bung is a slang but I rather thought it meant something else altogether.  Frankly, I was completely confused because I could only think bung as in . . . erm . . . bung hole.  Now that makes sense to me when you know that in science there is the need to use a "stopper" for certain apparatus and this is called a bung.

For obvious reasons, I focused on the "image" of bung meaning to fling or toss.  Seriously, you do not want to know what some of the fling images turned up.  I mean, seriously.  I was almost scared to look up toss but I played it safe by subtracting the word salad.  It is still too damn early for some things.

(Interestingly enough, it also means bribery, as wikipedia's redirection suggests.)

Click to Discuss
Image found here.
But at that moment, the whistle blew, and Mrs. Weasley chivvied them toward the train doors.  (164)

chivvied (verb)
to vex or harass with petty attacks
Definition found here.
tell (someone) repeatedly to do something
Definition found here.

I've a feeling that this word's meaning and usage have changed because this just doesn't make sense.  Or Rowling used an improper word in this context.  I mean, I can see Mrs. Weasley hustling them onto the train, or hurrying them, or pushing them.  But can you harass someone towards a physical object?  Or vex them?  I suppose but that is not a strong choice in wording, if you ask me.  I have enough faith in Rowling's writing to assume an evolution of this word but if there is none, then I'm genuinely surprised the editors didn't change it, especially given that American editors had no problem changing the title of the first novel altogether.

Image found here.
I wouldn’t mind giving him my bed, I could kip on a camp bed.  (249)

kip (noun)
1. A rooming house.
2. A place to sleep; a bed.
3. Sleep.
Definition found here.


As a verb, this world obviously includes the third definition.  Which makes the album title I found for the image deliciously ironic, don't you think?


There was a bleak and forbidding air about the place; there were no pictures on the walls, no decorations at all; just these serried rows of benches, rising in levels all around the room, all positioned so that they had a clear view of that chair with the chains on its arms. (586)


serried (adjective)
pressed or crowded together, especially in rows

Image found here.


I hope you will visit the website for this image because every painting sold helps pay for children to get an education.  Perhaps spread the word, tell others about this website.  If times are hard for those of us who have the privilege of living in a highly wealthy country, can you imagine how much harder it is in other countries?  And children deserve only the best.  An education is the least we should strive to offer.  After all, this sharing of Wondrous Words is all about learning, right?  

12 comments:

  1. Obviously, I didn't reach for my dictionary often enough when I was reading Harry Potter, because I learned SO much from your post!

    I'm kind of wishing that plus fours would have their day in fashion -- they look practical and comfortable!

    Joy's Book Blog

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    1. Oh I'm happy they aren't. I have thick calves and they would cut me off in a very unflattering manner. :)

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  2. Excellent words today (and I appreciate all the sardonic humor in this post). I agree that others should "check out" the art website. The work is vibrant and has a great purpose.

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    1. Suko, I'm glad you enjoyed the humor. Unfortunately, it came at the cost of my eyes being traumatized by the most horrific images. (Not really. I did use some common sense but that only kicked in after one wrong click and a cup of coffee.)

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  3. I am a mere 100 pages from finishing this one right now.

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    1. This was the first of the series I owned and remains one of my favorites for sentimental reasons. That and, as I've said before, this is where things get much darker.

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  4. Hi Satia,

    As I live in the UK, I knew all of your words today.

    Most of them are still in everyday use, with the possible exceptions of 'serried' and 'plus fours', although I am sure that any keen golfer would know about 'plus fours', even if he didn't actually wear them.

    'Pillock' definitely isn't one of the nicest words in the English language, although it is used a lot by the younger generation today.

    Perhaps this definition of 'chivvied' would make things a bit clearer in the context in which the word was used in your example sentence:

    "to try to persuade someone to do something or to hurry them, especially when they do not really feel like it."

    What a lovely post this week.

    Yvonne

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    Replies
    1. Yvonne, Thank you so much. I was counting on one person from "over the pond" to help me clarify the whole chivvied thing because I couldn't imagine Rowling being careless. Not that she's a flawless writer but she wouldn't use a blatantly wrong word. I truly appreciate your helping us all out.

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  5. Such a great post this week Satia. Most of these words are known in Australia. I've seen pillock used in lots of British shows. I must admit that I do love it when used with emotion in a British accent. I knew plus fours from their golf usage, but didn't know anything about the name. I didn't know serried.

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    1. You are actually the one I thought of when I said to myself that all these British slang words would be known by some of my readers. You and two or three others. So it doesn't surprise me in the least that you knew them . . . although you didn't know one which is a pleasant surprise.

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  6. I'm familiar with most of the words used by Rowling. Pillock was a common slang and some people used it interchangeably with "thick" or "he's a real thicky" Regional slang is very interesting and what is used in the country can be very different that what is used in the city.

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    Replies
    1. I definitely had fun (and a few shocking images flashing before my eyes) as a result of looking some of these words up.

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